Jacksonville Jaguars: Bryan Anger

Examining the Jacksonville Jaguars' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (3)
General manager David Caldwell has said he likes to keep three quarterbacks, which means all three will have to be on the active roster, because Stanzi is ineligible for the practice squad. Stanzi should start the season as the No. 2 because he’s more ready to play than Bortles, but that will likely flip-flop at some point. Stephen Morris is a practice squad candidate.

RUNNING BACKS (5)

If the Jags elect to keep only four backs, Todman and Johnson likely would battle for the final spot. That is assuming Robinson continues to be very good in camp. He might end up getting more playing time than any of the other backs after Gerhart if he shows he can be a reliable pass-catcher. Johnson has to prove he can pass block and doesn’t have problems with ball security.

RECEVIERS (6)

The first four players should be locks, but it will be an interesting competition for the final two spots among Brown, Taylor, free-agent signee Tandon Doss, undrafted rookie Allen Hurns, and former practice-squad player Chad Bumphis. Doss missed most of the organized team activities and minicamp because of a calf injury, allowing Taylor, Bumphis and Hurns to get valuable reps. Doss was not a consistent receiver in his three seasons in Baltimore and has more value as a returner, but Sanders’ strength is as a punt returner and the Jags have other options at kickoff returner. I have Taylor narrowly beating out Hurns because of his experience, but I can easily see that being flipped if the Jags want to add more size. Hurns is 6-foot-3; Taylor is 6-0.

TIGHT ENDS (3)

Jensen flashed during OTAs and gets the edge over three other players. He’s a big kid (6-6, 270) who is a raw version of Lewis, one of the league’s best blocking tight ends. Jensen will need a year or two to develop and likely will be used as an extra blocker more than a pass-catcher.

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8)

Some of the battles for starting jobs along the line are going to be intriguing during camp. Joeckel and Beadles are safe, but every other spot is up for grabs. Even Pasztor, who started 12 games last season, is uncertain because we don’t know how his surgically repaired shoulder will hold up during camp. If it’s fine, then he will win the starting job at right tackle. McClendon and Linder are battling for the right guard spot, and Brewster is going to have to hold off Bowanko and two others to be the starter at center. Bradfield has value because he can play both tackle spots.

DEFENSIVE LINE (10)

This should be the biggest upgraded position on the roster thanks to the additions of Clemons, Bryant and Hood. Despite public perception, Alualu isn’t on the bubble for two reasons: He played solidly last season, and there really isn’t anyone else on the roster as talented as he is to back up Bryant. The Jags are excited about Smith, who could end up playing more than Davis as the No. 3 LEO (hybrid end/linebacker) by the time the season is over.

LINEBACKERS (6)

Either John Lotulelei or J.T. Thomas, two key special teams players last season, could stick if the Jaguars decide to keep an extra linebacker instead of five cornerbacks, or if Hayes’ surgically repaired knee doesn’t respond well. Reynolds did a solid job subbing for Watson (groin) during OTAs and minicamp at the new OTTO position (replaces strongside linebacker).

CORNERBACKS (5)

The Jags will have to decide whether to keep fourth-year player Mike Harris or Jeremy Harris, a seventh-round pick in 2013 who spent his rookie season on injured reserve with a back injury. The 6-2, 185-pound Jeremy Harris is a better fit for what coach Gus Bradley wants in his cornerbacks than the 5-10, 188-pound Mike Harris, who was a member of former GM Gene Smith’s final draft class. Blackmon has been working inside as well, which also makes Mike Harris expendable. Fourth-round draft pick Aaron Colvin will begin the season on the PUP list and doesn't count against the roster limit.

SAFETIES (4)
Chris Prosinski has seemingly been a bubble player since he was drafted in the fourth round in 2011, but there is too much competition for him to survive this time. Martin started 36 games for Carolina in his first five seasons, and that experience gives him the edge. Evans seems to be the name everyone mentions when talking about the first Caldwell draft pick to get cut, but though he might lose his starting job to Guy, he’s likely to stick around at least another year.

SPECIALISTS (3)

These guys should have little or no competition to make the roster.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- There's a dirty word that's never spoken in one corner of the Jacksonville Jaguars' locker room.

In fact, if one of the players in that area hears anyone say it -- teammate or visitor -- he'll jump them pretty good. That word, he says, has no place in football.

[+] EnlargeJosh Scobee
Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsKicker Josh Scobee thinks the word "shank" has no place in the football lexicon.
Shank.

"It's a bad word," kicker Josh Scobee said.

Scobee hates hearing the "S-word," as he calls it. He'll call people out when they say it the locker room. If a member of the media uses it on Twitter, writes it, or says it in a broadcast, Scobee lets them know he doesn't approve.

"It's a golf term and it is a bad word in golf," Scobee said. "You never want to see that happen so whenever someone misses a kick and they use that word, I don't like it. I prefer mishit. That's a lot better than the S-word."

Shank -- sorry, Josh -- is a golf term that describes what happens when a golfer hits the ball with any part of the club other than the clubface. It's usually the hosel of the club that makes first contact and that causes the ball to careen wildly off to the right (for a right-handed golfer). At some point the word became a part of football lexicon and came to mean a kicker pulling or pushing a field goal attempt and a punter hitting a ball off the side of his foot.

It's not a correct correlation, Scobee said. He should know. He's a scratch golfer who has attempted to qualify for a U.S. Open sectional multiple times.

"I would never use that term in football because it doesn't make sense," he said. "You can't hit one of those in football. You can hit one of those in golf and they're contagious so I don't want them to ever get contagious in football."

How much does the S-word bother Scobee? Punter Bryan Anger found out even before he met him. A couple members of the media tweeted that Anger "shanked" a punt during rookie minicamp in 2012 and Scobee responded on Twitter by suggesting the preferred mishit.

"It was pretty funny," Anger said. "They'll be times when it's used and times when people just don't really have a clue."

Scobee said there's never a time when the S-word applies for a kicker, but Anger admitted there is a scenario in which even he would admit he shanked a punt.

"That's where you just don't even get close to a spiral," Anger said. "I call mishits some that don't quite turn over like a spiral but they're staying kind of nose up and fluttering. A shank is when you just hit it end over end like a kickoff or like the opposite of the kickoff. Shank is where you just almost completely miss it.

"You don't see many punters shank it in the league now but it happens every now and then."

Anger's interview was conducted separately from Scobee's, which is probably a good thing because Anger actually used the S-word. Scobee wouldn't and didn't even want it used as part of a question. He stopped me as soon as it was clear that I was headed for the S-word.

"Don't say that," he said.

Mishit. Got it.

What the Jaguars can expect in the draft

April, 8, 2014
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars have 11 picks in the 2014 NFL draft, which begins a month from today. It’ll be the second go-around for general manager David Caldwell, who seems to have put together a solid first draft class.

What kind of talent can Caldwell expect to find when he makes his selections (Nos. 3, 39, 70, 105, 114, 144, 150, 159, 179, 205 and 222)? Here’s a look at the player selected at each of those spots the past five years.

Some have turned out pretty good. Some haven’t worked out at all. But it’s fun to look back and see some recognizable and not-so-recognizable names.

Round 1 (No. 3 overall)

2013: DE Dion Jordan (Oregon) by Miami.

2012: RB Trent Richardson (Alabama) by Cleveland.

2011: DT Marcell Dareus (Alabama) by Buffalo.

2010: DT Gerald McCoy (Oklahoma) by Tampa Bay.

2009: DE Tyson Jackson (LSU) by Kansas City.

Round 2 (No. 39 overall)

2013: QB Geno Smith (West Virginia) by the New York Jets.

2012: CB Janoris Jenkins (North Alabama) by St. Louis.

2011: LB Akeem Ayers (UCLA) by Tennessee.

2010: WR Arrelious Benn (Illinois) by Tampa Bay.

2009: OT Eben Britton (Arizona) by Jacksonville.

Round 3 (No. 70 overall)

2013: CB Blidi Wreh-Wilson (Connecticut) by Tennessee.

2012: P Bryan Anger (California) by Jacksonville.

2011: LB Justin Houston (Georgia) by Tennessee.

2010: TE Ed Dickson (Oregon) by Baltimore.

2009: DE Michael Johnson (Georgia Tech) by Cincinnati.

Round 4 (No. 105 overall)

2013: FS Duke Williams (Nevada) by Buffalo.

2012: LB Nigel Bradham (FSU) by Buffalo.

2011: RB Roy Helu (Nebraska) by Washington.

2010: DB Trevard Lindley (Kentucky) by Philadelphia.

2009: DE Henry Melton (Texas) by Chicago.

Round 4 (No. 114 overall)

2013: CB B.W. Webb (William & Mary) by Dallas.

2012: DT Jaye Howard (Florida) by Seattle.

2011: WR Cecil Shorts (Mount Union) by Jacksonville.

2010: TE Dennis Pitta (Brigham Young) by Baltimore.

2009: DB David Bruton (Notre Dame) by Denver.

Round 5 (No. 144 overall)

2013: WR Kenny Stills (Oklahoma) by New Orleans.

2012: OT Zebrie Sanders (FSU) by Buffalo.

2011: DB Shiloh Keo (Idaho) by Houston.

2010: DB Sherrick McManis (Northwestern) by Houston.

2009: WR Jarrett Dillard (Rice) by Jacksonville.

Round 5 (No. 150 overall)

2013: CB Terry Hawthorne (Illinois) by Pittsburgh.

2012: G Rokevious Watkins (South Carolina) by St. Louis.

2011: OT Jason Pinkston (Pittsburgh) by Cleveland.

2010: P Zoltan Mesko (Michigan) by New England.

2009: LB Jasper Brinkley (South Carolina) by Minnesota.

Round 5 (No. 159 overall)

2013: CB Micah Hyde (Iowa) by Green Bay.

2012: RB Chris Rainey (Florida) by Pittsburgh.

2011: TE Lee Smith (Marshall) by New England.

2010: WR Riley Cooper (Florida) by Philadelphia.

2009: OT Fenuki Tupou (Oregon) by Philadelphia.

Round 6 (No. 179 overall)

2013: LB Tourek Williams (FIU) by San Diego.

2012: G Andrew Tiller (Syracuse) by New Orleans.

2011: G Caleb Schlauderaff (Utah) by Green Bay.

2010: OT Sam Young (Notre Dame) by Dallas.

2009: DB Morgan Trent (Michigan) by Cincinnati.

Round 6 (No. 205 overall)

2013: DT Stacy McGee (Oklahoma) by Oakland.

2012: DT Billy Winn (Boise State) by Cleveland.

2011: DE Lazarius Levingston (LSU) by Seattle.

2010: G Ted Larsen (N.C. State) by new England.

2009: DT Ra’Shon Harris (Oregon) by Pittsburgh.

Round 7 (No. 222 overall)

2013: TE Chris Gragg (Arkansas) by Buffalo.

2012: LB Caleb McSurdy (Montana) by Dallas.

2011: DB Anthony Gaitor (FIU) by Tampa Bay.

2010: WR Marc Mariani (Montana) by Tennessee.

2009: P Pat McAfee (West Virginia) by Indianapolis.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Each week this season I put together a list of the top 10 playmakers from the previous week's game.

Sometimes it wasn't easy, especially in the first half of the season. With the Jaguars going 0-8 I had to dig deep, and twice I had to use mascot Jaxson DeVille for his dramatic pregame entrances.

Thing were much easier in the second half of the season, though. The Jaguars played significantly better and went 4-4.

At the midway point I gave you a list of the top 10 playmakers for the first half of the season. Now that the season is over, here's the final list.

Remember, this isn't a list of the MVP candidates, but a compilation of the players who made the biggest difference this season.

Following each player's name will be three numbers: their final point total, their first-half point total, and second-half point total. Points were assigned to each spot on the weekly list. The No. 1 playmaker each week got 10 points, the No. 2 got nine, the No. 3 got eight, etc.

[+] EnlargePosluszny
AP Photo/Scott A. MillerPaul Posluszny was the Jaguars' best defensive player and arguably their top player overall.
1. LB Paul Posluszny (83 total, 46 first half, 37 second half): It's no surprise that he tops the list. He was the Jaguars' best defensive player all season and you could argue that he was the team's best overall player. His 161 tackles (121 solo) were second in the NFL. He also had three sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.

T2. RB Maurice Jones-Drew (77-41-36): It wasn't his best season, but he still was the Jaguars' leading rusher (803 yards) and was the third-leading receiver (43 receptions for 314 yards). He only scored five touchdowns and his 3.4 yards per carry average was the lowest of his career, but he still was the offense's biggest playmaker. He did that despite being less than a year removed from Lisfranc surgery and battling through ankle, knee and hamstring issues.

T2. QB Chad Henne (77-45-32): He finished with 13 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions, but he threw for nine touchdown passes and five interceptions in the last five games. He also threw for 3,241 yards, making him the first Jaguars quarterback to surpass 3,000 yards since David Garrard in 2009. Though he wasn't spectacular, he made a lot of good plays and rarely put the Jaguars in a bad situation.

4. WR Cecil Shorts (57-44-13): He fought through shoulder and groin injuries to catch a team-high 66 passes for 777 yards and three touchdowns. He missed the final three games because the groin injury became too severe for him to play through. For nine of the 13 games he was the team's No. 1 receiver and struggled with that role in the first month but handled it much better after Justin Blackmon's second suspension.

5. K Josh Scobee (46-30-16): He missed only two of his 25 field goal attempts. One was a 60-yarder and the other was blocked. He scored 94 points, which led the team for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons.

6. P Bryan Anger (45-34-11): He was the team's best offensive player in the first month of the season. His gross average was down 2.1 yards from his rookie season but he equaled his rookie mark of 31 punts inside the 20-yard line.

7. TE Marcedes Lewis (41-6-35): A calf injury kept him out for all but two plays in the first six games and he needed time to get used to the offense and figure out his role. Once he got comfortable, offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch made him a significant part of the game plan and Lewis caught 16 passes for 242 yards (15.1 yards per catch) and four touchdowns in the last five games.

8. WR Ace Sanders (40-13-27): He was drafted to be the team's punt returner and because of injuries and Blackmon's suspension ended up playing a key role on offense. His 51 receptions for 484 yards were second on the team. For comparison, Shorts caught only two passes as a rookie and Blackmon caught 64.

9. DT Sen'Derrick Marks (37-15-22): He was the Jaguars' best defensive lineman all season and put together a career year. He set career highs in sacks (four), passes defensed (eight), forced fumbles (two) and fumble recoveries (three) in 2013. He had three sacks, eight passes defensed, three forced fumbles and no fumble recoveries in his first four seasons with Tennessee. He was rewarded with a four-year contract extension last month.

10. WR Justin Blackmon (34-0-34): He played in just four games but he was the Jaguars' best offensive player in those four. He caught 29 passes for 446 yards and one touchdown. His 29 receptions are fifth on the team and the 415 yards are fourth. He will be eligible to apply for reinstatement before the 2014 season begins.

Here are the players who finished 11th-20th:

11. RB/KR Jordan Todman (32-5-27): He finished as the Jaguars' second-leading rusher (256 yards) but made his biggest mark as a kickoff returner. His 27.4 yards per return average was seventh in the NFL. He proved he could be a complementary back as well, rushing for 109 yards against Buffalo when Jones-Drew sat out with a hamstring injury.

12. S Johnathan Cyprien (31-23-9): He finished second on the team with 104 tackles and progressively improved throughout the season.

13. LB Geno Hayes (29-6-23): Played through a knee injury all season and finished third with 78 tackles and two interceptions.

14. WR Mike Brown (26-26-0): He missed four games with a fractured vertebrae but rebounded to finish fourth with 32 catches for 446 yards and two touchdowns.

15. CB Alan Ball (24-3-21): He led the team with 14 pass breakups to go along with 45 tackles and two interceptions.

16. CB Will Blackmon (21-11-10): He was a late-August acquisition who became the leader in the secondary. His strip-sack and return for a touchdown was instrumental in the Jaguars' first victory. He finished with 10 pass breakups, one interception, and 40 tackles.

17. DE Jason Babin (19-6-13): He led the team with 7.5 sacks to go along with 40 tackles.

18. WR Kerry Taylor (18-0-18): He joined the team on Nov. 4 and caught 16 passes for 162 yards in the last three games.

19. LB LaRoy Reynolds (17-0-17): The sight of him assisting on a tackle on a punt return despite losing his helmet will be one of the lasting images of the season.

20. LB J.T. Thomas (15-11-4): He had 17 tackles and a forced fumble. He started the last two games of the season and had seven tackles and a forced fumble against Indianapolis.

 
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars had a rough time with the Indianapolis Colts for a second time this season.

Indianapolis was short-handed because of injuries against the Tennessee Titans Sunday, but there still were some solid performances in the 20-16 loss.

Some of them came from young, unproven players such as receiver Kerry Taylor and J.T. Thomas, both of whom earned a spot on this week’s list of the Jaguars’ top 10 playmakers.

Remember, this isn’t a list of MVP candidates, but a compilation of the players who are making the biggest difference each week.

Here we go, with last week's rankings in parenthesis:

1. LB LaRoy Reynolds (NR): He made six tackles and broke up a pass, but it was his helmet-less tackle that earned him the top spot on this list. His helmet was ripped off during a punt but he still managed to race downfield and help Nate Stupar bring down Griff Whalen.

2. WR Kerry Taylor (4): He was the Jaguars’ go-to receiver over the last three weeks and caught a career-high eight passes for 75 yards and his first career touchdown. Taylor has caught 16 passes for 162 yards in the last three games.

3. QB Chad Henne (3): A lot of his yards came late when the game was already decided but he still completed 30 of 51 passes for 331 yards and one touchdown with one interception. That was a season high and the seventh-highest total of his career.

4. TE Marcedes Lewis (2): Offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch really got Lewis involved in the offense the past month and Lewis capped his season with three catches for 70 yards, including a 36-yard catch-and-run. He was unable to extend his streak of consecutive games with a touchdown catch to five.

5. WR Ace Sanders (NR): He was targeted a team-high 14 times and caught six passes for 50 yards.

6. S Johnathan Cyprien (8): He was flying around the field, especially early in the game, and broke up three passes to go along with six tackles. Tight ends have hurt the Jaguars all season but Colts tight ends had just two catches for 43 yards with Cyprien patrolling the middle of the field.

7. RB Maurice Jones-Drew (7): In what may have been his final game as a Jaguar, Jones-Drew rushed for 39 yards on 13 carries and caught five passes for 51 yards.

8. LB Paul Posluszny (5): He led the team in tackles (nine), which is another typical Posluszny game.

9. LB J.T. Thomas (9): He made the second start of his career and finished with seven tackles (including one for a loss) and forced a fumble.

10. P Bryan Anger (NR): He’s back after a long hiatus. Anger averaged 46 yards on five punts, only one of which was returned for 5 yards.

Jaguars top 10: Shorts overcomes woes

December, 3, 2013
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Don't expect to find any defensive backs on this week's top 10 Jaguars playmakers list.

Not after they allowed Cleveland receiver Josh Gordon to catch 10 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns, including a 95-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown.

But there are still plenty of other players worthy of making the rankings.

Remember, this isn't a list of MVP candidates, but a compilation of the players who are making the biggest difference each week.

Here we go, with last week's rankings in parenthesis:

[+] EnlargeCecil Shorts
Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsIt's how Cecil Shorts finished against the Browns that vaulted him to the top spot in the weekly Jaguars top 10 rankings.
1. WR Cecil Shorts (7): Yes, he struggled early. Yes, he dropped two passes. But he also beat one of the NFL's best cornerbacks with a double move and caught the game-winning touchdown pass with 40 seconds remaining. Shorts finished with six catches for 64 yards.

2. DT Sen'Derrick Marks (6): He is getting mercilessly ribbed by his teammates for getting run down by an offensive lineman after recovering a fumble late in the first half, but that doesn't override the fact that he had another big game: three tackles, one sack, one pass breakup, and one forced fumble.

3. RB Maurice Jones-Drew (1): It's not the season-high 23 carries for 77 yards that gets him this high. It's his 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Marcedes Lewis. He is the first non-quarterback to throw a touchdown pass in franchise history.

4. WR Ace Sanders (9): So much for the rookie wall. Sanders led the Jaguars with eight catches for 67 yards, including a 25-yarder to convert a third down on the game-winning drive. Sanders had nine touches (one rush for 4 yards) and converted six first downs. He has 20 of his 36 receptions in the last three games.

5. K Josh Scobee (NR): He kicked three field goals -- from 44, 36 and 25 yards -- and is now 17-for-19 on the season. He had one blocked, and his only miss was a 60-yarder at the end of the first half against Arizona.

6. LB Paul Posluszny (5): He finished in his usual spot atop the tackles list (11) but also added a pass breakup and combined with Jason Babin on a sack.

7. DE Jason Babin (NR): He forced the fumble that Marks recovered and had 1.5 sacks.

8. QB Chad Henne (3): It wasn't his best game, but he did lead the team on the 80-yard game-winning drive. He made two huge throws on that drive, lofting a 25-yarder to Sanders on third down and hitting Shorts in the corner of the end zone for the touchdown.

9. RB/KR Jordan Todman (NR): He averaged 7.2 yards per touch, carrying five times for 31 yards and catching one pass for 12 yards. He also averaged 25 yards on two kickoff returns. He's starting to look like he did in the preseason, when he led the team in rushing.

10. P Bryan Anger (NR): He averaged 43.7 yards on seven punts and put four of them inside the 20, including three inside the 15-yard line.

Jaguars top 10: Who's No. 1?

November, 19, 2013
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The euphoria lasted just six days.

The good feelings the Jaguars experienced after their first victory of the season over the Tennessee Titans on Nov. 10 evaporated during Sunday’s 27-14 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. The Jaguars got off to a fast start offensively but fizzled and the defense got torched by Carson Palmer.

That means it’s back to slim pickings for the weekly list of the team’s top 10 playmakers. At least there’s Danny Noble, the recently-acquired, little-used tight end who turned in one of the plays of the year. Plus, there was another good performance by punter Bryan Anger.

There's also another special guest in this week's rankings.

Remember, this isn’t a list of MVP candidates, but a compilation of the players who are making the biggest difference each week.

Here we go, with last week’s rankings in parenthesis:

1. TE Danny Noble (NR): A 62-yard catch and run for a touchdown on fourth-and-1 isn’t a bad way to get your first career reception. His touchdown was the first scored at EverBank Field by the Jaguars this season.

2. P Bryan Anger (NR): Anger’s back in the top five again, mainly because he kept the Jaguars in the game in the second half when the offense was sputtering. Arizona started four consecutive drives at its 9, 10, 2 and 10 in the third and fourth quarters following Anger punts. He averaged 47.8 yards on eight punts and put six inside the 20.

3. CB Alan Ball (NR): Though he didn’t make as much of an impact in the second half, Ball was pretty darn good in the first half. He broke up four passes, three while covering Michael Floyd and one while covering Larry Fitzgerald.

4. DE Jason Babin (NR): He had five tackles, one sack, and two quarterback hurries. He also provided one of the few defensive highlights of the game when he tackled Andre Ellington and emerged from the pile with a significant chunk of Ellington’s dreadlocks.

5. KR/RB Jordan Todman (5): He had another good week and has played his best football since the bye week. He averaged 36.0 yards on four kickoff returns and busted a 59-yarder. He also rushed for 9 yards on two carries.

6. WR Ace Sanders (NR): The rookie, forced into more action because of the loss of Justin Blackmon and Patrick Peterson locking down Cecil Shorts, caught a career-high eight passes for 61 yards. He averaged 8.0 yards on six punt returns, too, but that’s an area in which he has to improve.

7. The defensive front (NR): No one player stood out in rush defense, but the group collectively had its best day of the season. Ellington came into the game averaging 7.2 yards per carry but managed just 3 yards on eight carries and the Cardinals only had 14 yards on 24 carries. It was the second-fewest rushing yards allowed in franchise history. Sen’Derrick Marks, Roy Miller, Brandon Deaderick, Tyson Alualu, Babin, Andre Branch and Jeremy Mincey deserve credit.

8. LB Russell Allen (NR): He filled in capably for leading tackler and defensive leader Paul Posluszny (concussion), making seven tackles. He also had an interception that was wiped out by a timeout call that nobody but one official saw. However, he was also one of three players who missed a tackle on Floyd’s 91-yard touchdown, although he appeared to get knocked out of position by Josh Evans.

9. DE Andre Branch (NR): Coach Gus Bradley lauded Branch, who had a sack and two quarterback hurries, for his continued improvement throughout the season.
10. Bryan Wagner (NR): Wagner, a member of the Wounded Warrior Project, zip-lined above the field prior to the beginning of the game as part of the military appreciation day. Wagner, who lost his right leg to an IED while serving in the Army, leapt from atop the scoreboard in the south end zone and eventually landed near midfield.

Upon Further Review: Jaguars Week 11

November, 18, 2013
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A review of four hot issues from the Jacksonville Jaguars' 27-14 loss to the Arizona Cardinals:

[+] EnlargeMaurice Jones-Drew
Scott Cunningham/Getty ImagesThe Cardinals limited Maurice Jones-Drew to just 23 yards on 14 carries.
Aggressive approach: Coach Gus Bradley wants his team to take some chances. They won't always work, but being conservative doesn't make much sense for a team that entered the game 1-8, either. That's why he went for it on fourth down from his own 38-yard line less than three minutes into the game and allowed kicker Josh Scobee to attempt a 60-yard field goal just before the half. We will see more of those decisions, Bradley said. "No one wants to [lose]," he said. "We'll work hard to avoid it, but what I think what I liked is we weren't afraid to fail. We were bold in our decisions. The fourth-down call, trying the 60-yard field goal, there was many situations where I felt like we were bold and I told our team that we need to take that personality on and reflect it. We'll continue to build in that direction."

Anger management: Punter Bryan Anger kept the Jaguars in the game in the second half while the offense was sputtering by pinning the Cardinals deep in their own territory. Arizona started four consecutive drives at its 9, 10, 2 and 10 in the third and fourth quarters following Anger punts. In all but one case the Cardinals ended up gaining fewer than 7 yards. The only exception came on Michael Floyd's 91-yard catch-and-run that was helped by three missed tackles. Anger averaged 47.8 yards on eight punts and put six inside the 20.

Ground struggles: Running back Maurice Jones-Drew continues to struggle. He ran for 41 yards on 21 carries in last week's game against Tennessee and had 23 yards on 14 carries against Arizona. Part of the issue is the offensive line, which is starting its Nos. 3 and 4 offensive tackles and hasn't had starting left guard Will Rackley since the San Francisco game on Oct. 27. However, the line hasn't played well when it was completely healthy, either. Jones-Drew, who missed the final 10 games last season with a Lisfranc injury and has battled ankle and knee issues this season, looks a half-step slow and doesn't seem to have the burst he did throughout his career. The Cardinals did come into the game with the NFL's No. 3 rush defense, but the Jaguars need a better showing than 23 yards. "They loaded the box and wanted to make sure that we couldn't run the ball," Jones-Drew said. "Sometimes you have to keep fighting that uphill battle and hopefully things will break."

Pressure: The Jaguars didn't have much luck getting to Carson Palmer with a four-man rush, so they went with some different pressure packages that included linebackers or defensive backs rushing. Bradley had challenged the front four to get more pressure because the defense has been vulnerable when blitzing because the secondary hadn't been able to hold the coverage until the pressure got to the quarterback. That's what happened again Sunday. The Cardinals' two biggest pass plays -- the 91-yard touchdown and a 37-yard pass to Floyd -- came when the Jaguars sent extra rushers and the Cardinals picked it up.

Rapid Reaction: Jacksonville Jaguars

November, 17, 2013
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A few thoughts on the Jacksonville Jaguars' 27-14 loss to the Arizona Cardinals.

What it means: The Jaguars were trying to achieve something that hasn't happened since 2010: win back-to-back games. They beat Tennessee and Oakland in consecutive weeks in December that season but have won just eight games since. There is a silver lining in the loss, though. Tampa Bay was routing the Falcons, which leaves the Jaguars as the league's only team with a single victory and puts them in the lead for the No. 1 overall selection in the 2014 draft.

Stock watch: Punter Bryan Anger had perhaps his best game of the season, averaging nearly 50 yards per punt and pinning the Cardinals deep in their own territory. In the third quarter alone he forced the Cardinals into starting drives on their 9-, 10- and 2-yard line. Anger kept the Jaguars in the game while the offense sputtered in the second half. Cornerback Alan Ball had a solid game, too, by breaking up four passes in the first half -- three of which were intended for Michael Floyd.

TOs overturned: The Jaguars had what appeared to be two turnovers deep in Arizona territory wiped out. Patrick Peterson fumbled a punt at his own 10-yard line. Three Jaguars pounced on the ball but somehow Peterson came out with it and the Cardinals retained possession. Replays appeared to show long-snapper Carson Tinker coming out of the pile with the ball and the Jaguars challenged the play, but officials upheld the ruling on the field. Two plays later, middle linebacker Russell Allen intercepted Carson Palmer's pass to Larry Fitzgerald, but officials announced after the play that the Cardinals had called timeout before the snap.

Sneaky: The Jaguars scored their first touchdown on an interesting fourth-and-1 call. They lined up at their own 38 with extra tight ends. The Cardinals played run all the way, and the play-action fake allowed recently acquired tight end Danny Noble to get behind the first level of defenders. Chad Henne hit him with a good pass and Noble broke a tackle to score a 62-yard touchdown. What made the play work is the fact that Noble is a blocking tight end who had played in only five games and never had a catch until Sunday.

What's next: The Jaguars will play at Houston on Sunday.

Upon Further Review: Jaguars Week 10

November, 11, 2013
11/11/13
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A review of four hot issues from the Jacksonville Jaguars29-27 victory over the Tennessee Titans:

[+] EnlargeWill Blackmon
Frederick Breedon/Getty ImagesThe Jaguars went "back to basics" on defense and forced four turnovers, one of which Will Blackmon returned for a touchdown.
Simple success: Apparently, simpler is better for the Jaguars' defense. Coach Gus Bradley and defensive coordinator Bob Babich spent part of the bye week going over the defensive game plans from the first half of the season and decided that trimming the amount of coverages, blitzes and personnel groups would help. The result was the defense’s best performance of the season. The Jaguars forced four turnovers -- the most they'd had in a game in three years -- and held the Titans to just 83 yards rushing. The Jaguars were last in the NFL in rush defense (161.8 yards per game) entering the game. “We got back to basics,” linebacker Paul Posluszny said. “Early on or even the last couple weeks ... we had games we were trying to do a little too much, and we scaled our package down for this week. I think we had a really good plan going into the game, very basic, not complex. It was stuff that we knew really well and we felt like we could play really fast with.”

Special teams: Kick returner Jordan Todman nearly got benched this week after bobbling three kickoffs against San Francisco, but he responded with a huge game against the Titans. He averaged 33 yards on three returns, including a season-long 46-yarder. That came on his final return and it helped set up another big play on special teams, when LaRoy Reynolds downed Bryan Anger’s punt at the Tennessee 1-yard line. The Jaguars got a safety two plays later on a holding call in the end zone, which ended up being the winning margin. The Jaguars’ special teams have improved markedly since training camp, thanks mainly to an overhaul of the bottom of the roster and the addition of players such as J.T. Thomas and John Lotulelei.

No stupid penalties: Did the Jaguars make mistakes on Sunday? Plenty, such as Chad Henne’s terrible throw to Marcedes Lewis that got intercepted and Brad Meester’s shotgun snap that bounced off receiver Ace Sanders. But the Jaguars didn’t commit the stupid penalties that were a regular occurrence during the team’s first eight games. They were penalized four times for a season-low 19 yards. Meanwhile, the Titans did commit a couple of costly penalties: a holding call in the end zone for a safety and a roughing-the-passer flag on Bernard Pollard that extended a drive that ended with a touchdown.

Commitment to the run: The Jaguars didn’t have a lot of success on the ground, rushing for only 54 yards and averaging just 1.8 yards per carry, but offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch stayed committed to it all day. The Jaguars had only 56 offensive snaps and Fisch called 30 runs, including 21 by Maurice Jones-Drew. That’s the kind of balance Fisch wants in terms of runs and passes. Obviously the production needs to increase on the ground.

Jaguars top 10: First-half recap

November, 5, 2013
11/05/13
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jaguars had a miserable first half of the season, which made the task of picking the team's top 10 playmakers each week difficult.

Medium logoBut I persevered and came up with a list each week, although I admit there were a couple of weeks where it was so tough I snuck in Jaxson DeVille at the 10 spot. The funny thing is, I got no complaints -- although I didn't get any thanks from the Jaguars' mascot, either.

Now that the midpoint of the season is here, it's time to go back, tabulate the results and come up with the top 10 Jaguars playmakers of the first eight games. That was significantly easier. All I did was assign points to each spot on the list -- the No. 1 playmaker each week got 10 points, the No. 2 got nine, the No. 3 got eight, etc. -- and came up with a total for each player. The player with the most points was the No. 1 playmaker of the first half.

Remember, this isn't a list of MVP candidates, but a compilation of the players who are making the biggest difference each week.

Here's the list of the team's biggest playmakers in the first half of the season (point total in parenthesis):

Posluszny
1. LB Paul Posluszny (46): He has been without question the Jaguars' best defensive player this season, and you can argue their best player overall (which is why he's sitting atop this list). He leads the team with 80 tackles and has made two of the biggest defensive plays of the season, including an interception return for a touchdown against Denver.

2. QB Chad Henne (45): He had clearly out-played Blaine Gabbert and has a pretty solid hold on the starting job. The biggest thing he's done is cut down on the turnovers. Gabbert threw seven interceptions in three games, three of which were returned for touchdowns. The passing offense is more efficient, although he's still struggling in the red zone.

Shorts
3. WR Cecil Shorts (44): The Jaguars' leading receiver (46 catches, 565 yards) is on pace to record his first 1,000-yard season, a feat that hasn't been accomplished by Jaguars player since Jimmy Smith in 2005. Shorts now has to handle the pressure of being the team's No. 1 receiver with Justin Blackmon done.

4. RB Maurice Jones-Drew (41): He has come on after a slow start and had his best all-around game against San Francisco. He got more than 20 touches in that game and that's a workload he's going to have to duplicate pretty much every game in the second half for the offense to be balanced. Jones-Drew also is the only player to have scored more than one touchdown.

T5. P Bryan Anger (34): He's averaging 46.8 yards per punt and has a net average of 41.3, numbers comparable to his rookie season when he set NFL rookie and franchise records for gross and net punting average (47.8 and 40.8). He hasn't been as good at pinning opponents inside the 10-yard line but is still having a good season.

Blackmon
Blackmon
T5. WR Justin Blackmon (34): He was the team's best offensive player in the four games in which he played, catching 29 passes for 415 yards and one touchdown.

6. K Josh Scobee (30): He has made all 10 of his field goal attempts, including kicks from 50 and 53 yards, and leads the team with 36 points.

7. WR Mike Brown (26): Brown is a bit of a surprise on the list, but he has done a nice job in his transition from college quarterback to receiver. He missed four games with a fractured vertebra in his back but has caught 12 passes in the last three games and had a 120-yard performance against San Diego. He'll be one of the players who must step up in the second half to help replace Blackmon.

Cyprien
8. S Johnathan Cyprien (23): The rookie second-round pick has struggled lately but had been solid through the first month of the season. He has forced a team-high three fumbles and is the team's third-leading tackler (47) but has suddenly started missing too many tackles and is getting out of position in coverage. He still should develop into a good player but right now appears to be hitting the cliched rookie wall.

9. DT Sen'Derrick Marks (15): He has been the team's best defensive lineman and has 17 tackles, 2.0 sacks, three pass breakups, four tackles for loss, and six QB pressures. The last number is second only to defensive end Jason Babin (nine). He has played the fourth-most snaps on defense and the most by far of any defensive lineman.

10. WR/PR Ace Sanders (13): He hasn't been as involved in the passing game the last four games and missed one of those games because of a concussion, but Sanders was solid in the first four games. Still, he has caught 16 passes for 182 yards. He'll get more work in the second half with Blackmon gone but will probably make his greatest impact as a punt returner. He had one punt return for a TD called back because of a questionable penalty.

RTC: Bryan Anger in slight slump

October, 31, 2013
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Bryan Anger is dealing with a bit of a sophomore slump.

Expectations are always going to be high for the Jaguars' punter because he was drafted in the third round, but his numbers this season are down slightly from his rookie year in 2012. His punting average (46.8) is down a yard from last season and his net average has been less than 40 yards in each of the last two games, writes Hays Carlyon of the Florida Times-Union.

"It's been a little bit of a slow start," Anger said. "I've had some inconsistent games. I'm not quite 100 percent where I want to be. I've just been ironing some things out."

One area in which he will try to improve is field position. Though he has put 12 punts inside the opponents' 20-yard line, only three have pinned opponents inside their 10.

Here are some additional pieces of Jaguars content from around the web in our daily Reading the Coverage feature:

WJXT TV-4 sports director Sam Kouvaris and Cole Pepper look back at the first half of the season in the first part of their midseason report. Part two, in which they look ahead to the rest of the season, will be posted later this week.

NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal ranks the league's quarterbacks in his midseason report. Chad Henne was No. 31, ahead of Josh Freeman, Brandon Weeden, and Blaine Gabbert.

Former Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell said he regrets the comments about the team moving to London. Speaking on a Jacksonville radio station, Brunell said he just got caught up in the interview on the Mike & Mike show in ESPN Radio on Tuesday morning.

Some of the Jaguars' rookies have played well. Others have been invisible. I evaluate each of them here.

What players or areas of the team are rising and which are falling? Check out the stock watch.

Here are two items from the Jaguars blog: the weekly QB Watch and NFL Buzz video, in which I detail the top storylines heading into the bye week.

Jaguars top 10: Slim pickings again

October, 29, 2013
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- It was another disappointing day for the Jacksonville Jaguars, especially on defense, in a 42-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in London.

But at least the team scored its first touchdown in a “home” game this season.

Still, it’s another tough week to pick the team’s top 10 playmakers. Like last week, there will be few defensive players after giving up 221 yards rushing and allowing the 49ers to score touchdowns on their first four possessions.

Remember, this isn’t a list of MVP candidates, but a compilation of the players who are making the biggest difference each week.

Here we go, with last week’s rankings in parenthesis:

1. WR Mike Brown (1): He keeps the top spot after scoring the Jaguars’ first touchdown in a “home” game this season. The 29-yard TD catch was one of his three catches for 43 yards.

2. RB Maurice Jones-Drew (6): He had perhaps his best game of the season, rushing for 75 yards on 19 carries and catching six passes for 47 yards. He’s looking better and better each week.

3. QB Chad Henne (4): Henne’s yardage total was down significantly from the past few weeks, but he didn’t turn the ball over and hooked up with Brown for the team’s only touchdown. He still needs to be better in the red zone.

4. WR Cecil Shorts (3): Shorts led the team with seven catches for 74 yards. It appeared he may have re-injured his shoulder on a play because he went to the sideline with his right arm dangling by his side, but he was back on the field several plays later.

5. WR Denard Robinson (NR): Robinson was more involved in the offense than any of the seven previous games. He had four carries for 15 yards and may be settling into a role as a backup running back.

6. WR Justin Blackmon (2): Though Blackmon caught only four passes for 31 yards, he was targeted a team-high 10 times (tied with Shorts). He’s still drawing extra attention.

7. LB Paul Posluszny (7): Much like last week, have to include Posluszny because he has been the Jaguars’ best defender all season. He just can’t do it all by himself, though not for lack of trying. He led the Jaguars with 12 tackles.

8. K Josh Scobee (8): Footing at Wembley Stadium was slick, but Scobee had no trouble on his 38-yard field goal. He’s a perfect 10-for-10 this season.

9. P Bryan Anger (NR): Anger returns to the list after a two-week hiatus. It wasn’t his best game (he averaged 44.5 yards on four punts) but it’s pretty slim pickings this week, so …

10. Jaxson DeVille (NR): He’s back, too. Not for his zip-line entry into Wembley Stadium (that’s old hat to us in the states) but the way he broke away from the two “security guards” who tried to detain him while he was streaking. Some fine open-field running before getting caught.

Special-teams mistakes doom Jaguars

October, 13, 2013
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DENVER -- A lot of the roster moves the Jacksonville Jaguars have made over the past two months have been to improve on special teams.

They really struggled during the first half of the preseason, but those signings helped stabilize the units. But the problems the Jaguars had on special teams during Sunday’s 35-19 loss to the Denver Broncos had nothing to do with personnel.

It was execution and one questionable decision.

[+] EnlargeDavid Bruton
Jerilee Bennett/Colorado Springs Gazette/MCT via Getty ImagesDavid Bruton's 35-yard run on a fake punt was just one of the Jaguars' special-teams miscues.
"We went in with the mindset that we’re going to be aggressive in this game," Jaguars coach Gus Bradley said. "Instead of [how] maybe some thought we would back off, we wanted to be the other way. We wanted to be really aggressive."

That’s why Bradley called for a fake punt on the Jaguars’ first possession. It was a gutsy call because the Jaguars were on their own 26-yard line. But it showed his players that he wasn’t kidding about being aggressive.

It was a sound call, too, because the Jaguars saw something on tape that they believed they could exploit. It wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision. Not a bad gamble at all, considering the winless Jaguars had been 28-point underdogs.

But the fake itself was questionable at best. It was fourth-and-4 and fullback Will Ta’ufo’ou took a direct snap and tried to run up the middle. There was no room, just a pile of bodies. Not surprisingly, he gained just 1 yard, and the Jaguars gave Denver the ball on their 27-yard line.

"We felt like we had something," Bradley said. "[We] reviewed it and we talked about it and we felt like from the 20 to the 40 in that situation we could maybe steal a series."

Six plays later, the Broncos led 7-0.

The Jaguars’ two other big special-teams mistakes were because of poor execution. Rookie long-snapper Carson Tinker bounced a snap about a foot in front of holder Bryan Anger, who couldn't corral it and ended up being tackled for a 14-yard loss.

"Sometimes rookies make mistakes," Bradley said. "We talk about Josh [Evans] and Cyp [John Cyprien] and some other rookies that do it. You know, he’s a rookie, too. I guess sometimes that can happen at inopportune times."

The Jaguars got burned again late in the third quarter. The Broncos ran a fake punt on fourth-and-2 from their own 48-yard line, with David Bruton taking a direct snap and going around left end for a 35-yard gain.

It was perfect timing. The Jaguars were trailing by only 11 points, had just forced what they thought was a three-and-out and were thinking of possibly making it a one-score game. It was a well-designed play, too. Bruton is a safety, not a fullback. And he ran outside, not into the middle of the line. Nobody even saw him until he blew by the first-down marker.

Being aggressive was a sound plan, and it’s something the Jaguars should continue to do. But it’s not going to work if they continue to make small mistakes.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- The Jacksonville Jaguars remained winless after losing 34-20 to St. Louis on Sunday, but the team did make some progress. They scored a season-high 20 points and it was a seven-point game in the fourth quarter.

But the biggest evidence of the team’s progress is this: For the first time this season, punter Bryan Anger isn’t in the top five on the weekly list of the Jaguars’ top 10 playmakers. Did he even make the list? You’ll have to read on.

Remember, this isn’t a list of MVP candidates, but a compilation of the players who are making the biggest difference each week.

Here we go, with last week’s rankings in parenthesis:

1. WR Justin Blackmon (NR): He returned from his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy and made an immediate impact on the offense. He caught three passes for 90 yards and a touchdown -- a 67-yard catch-and-run in which he outran the secondary -- in the first quarter. He finished with five catches for 136 yards.

2. RB Maurice Jones-Drew (NR): One week after being a non-factor, Jones-Drew ran for a season-high 70 yards and caught two passes for 16 yards. He also gave the Jaguars their first 20-yard run all season.

3. DT Sen’Derrick Marks (NR): He has been the Jaguars’ best defensive lineman all season and had his best game against the Rams. Marks had a sack, a tackle for loss, knocked down two passes, and forced a fumble.

4. S Chris Prosinski (NR): Making big plays on special teams can really turn a game around. Prosinski did his part by blocking Johnny Hekker’s third-quarter punt to give the Jaguars the ball on the Rams’ 25-yard line. Unfortunately, the Jaguars couldn’t make anything out of that play because they failed to get points on four shots inside the St. Louis 5-yard line. That doesn’t ruin a great effort by Prosinski.

5. K Josh Scobee (1): Scobee made field goals of 48 and 34 yards and remains a perfect 5-for-5 this season.

6. QB Chad Henne (NR): He came in for the injured Blaine Gabbert in the third quarter and immediately hit Blackmon for 39 yards. That drive ended with a field goal and Henne also led the Jaguars on a fourth-quarter touchdown drive to cut the Rams’ lead to 27-20. Henne audibled into a pass on the TD play. Henne completed 7 of 13 passes for 89 yards.

7. S Johnathan Cyprien (NR): He led the Jaguars with 13 tackles and coach Gus Bradley said that was mainly because he was playing closer to the line of scrimmage. He always seems to be around the football.

8. WR Cecil Shorts (5): Shorts caught five passes for 74 yards and a touchdown and benefitted from having Blackmon on the field. He was targeted 10 times.

9. P Bryan Anger (2): The Jaguars still aren’t good enough for him to not be ranked each week. He averaged 48.2 net yards on five punts.

10. PR Ace Sanders (7): This might be cheating a bit, but he belongs on the list even though his 88-yard return for a touchdown was wiped out. The illegal block above the waist penalty on LaRoy Reynolds looked like an iffy call. You get the feeling that Sanders is going to break out on one that counts pretty soon.

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